Garmin Vivomove Sport review: The hybrid you're looking for

Garmin Vivomove Sport stress
(Image: © Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

Bottom line: If you've ever found yourself longing for a traditional watch that still has a nice set of features, you'll love what the Garmin Vivomove Sport has to offer. It can track your heart rate, activities, sleep patterns, stress, levels, and more. You'll also have smartphone notifications and music controls. This hybrid smartwatch offers the best of both worlds in a fashionable yet efficient package.

Pros

  • +

    Sleek, attractive design

  • +

    Heart-rate monitoring

  • +

    Activity/sleep tracking

  • +

    Body Battery & Pulse Ox

  • +

    Five days of battery life

Cons

  • -

    Poor sunlight visibility

  • -

    Touchscreen can be tricky

  • -

    No extra perks

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With each year that passes, Garmin manages to further expand its smartwatch lineup. This year started with two new releases at CES: the Garmin Vivomove Sport and the Venu 2 Plus. These two watches are a shining example of Garmin's unbelievable range.

While there are plenty of differences between the two, the Vivomove Sport is a perfect demonstration of how Garmin has mastered the art of packing essential features into its more affordable and traditional-looking hybrid smartwatches. It's less than half the price of some of the other Garmin smartwatches on the market, which will appeal to budget shoppers who don't need all the bells and whistles.

A hybrid smartwatch like the Garmin Vivomove Sport may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you're shopping for an Android smartwatch, but don't be too quick to judge. Whether you're new to wearables or you know that you'll only need a few essential features, the Garmin Vivomove Sport might surprise you.

Garmin Vivomove Sport: Price and availability

Garmin Vivomove Sport weather

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

The Garmin Vivomove Sport officially launched at CES on Jan. 4, 2022. The company's new hybrid smartwatch is available in four variants that retail for $179.99. You can buy the wearable directly from Garmin or third-party sellers like Amazon and Walmart.

Garmin Vivomove Sport: What you'll like

Garmin Vivomove Sport Ivory

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

If you're tired of smartwatches with tons of buttons and hefty designs that way you down, the Garmin Vivomove Sport will be a breath of fresh air. The 40mm plastic case and the silicone band are just under 34 grams combined. There are four color schemes to choose from: Ivory with Peach Gold accents, Cocoa with Peach Gold Accents, Cool Mint with Silver accents, and Black with Slate accents.

This hybrid smartwatch is compatible with 20mm interchangeable bands. So when you're ready for a change, there will be plenty of Garmin Vivomove Sport bands to pick from. The silicone band featured with the watch is comfortable and flexible, a blessing during intense workouts.

The Garmin Vivomove Sport can last for up to five days on a single charge.

All things considered, the battery life is pretty decent on this smartwatch. The Garmin Vivomove Sport can last for up to five days on a single charge. I found this accurate after wearing it for a few weeks and recording at least one activity a day while having push notifications enabled.

Some people might be expecting more, especially since some hybrid smartwatches can double that figure. However, five days seem fair when you account for activity tracking, all-day stress monitoring, sleep tracking, and smartphone notifications. It's certainly much better than the day or two of battery life you'll get on advanced features that require more frequent charging.

Garmin Vivomove Sport activity

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

Using only the touchscreen, you'll be able to view your notifications, start an activity, and take a blood oxygen reading. The hands-on watch will move out of your way whenever you interact with the touchscreen. Aside from your notifications and a few other words, the Garmin Vivomove Sport relies primarily on symbols.

For example, there's a symbol for Body Battery, and underneath, it will tell you if your percentage is increasing, decreasing, or holding steady. Likewise, there's a symbol for stress monitoring, and underneath, it will tell you if your levels are low, medium, or high.

The display will wake when you lift your wrist to look at the time. You can also double-tap on the display to wake it up manually. The main menu shows you the time and your current stats, such as steps and heart rate for the day. When you swipe to the left, you can view more detailed information such as your Body Battery, stress levels, notifications, weather, and music controls. There are a few different brightness settings, but I found the auto setting to be sufficient most of the time (more on that later).

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central

I've always been a fan of the Garmin Connect app, which comes in handy when using a watch like the Vivomove Sport. However, you'll need to rely on the app when you want to view more detailed data regarding your metrics and progress. You can choose what cards and data are displayed on the main page.

The Garmin Connect app has all the details you need.

When you want more information, simply open the logged activity in the app. The Garmin Connect app has all the details you need. You'll receive information regarding your steps, heart rate, overall distance, and calories burned. You can also take a look at your detailed logs for stress, sleep, heart rate, Body Battery, and so on.

The Garmin Connect app also allows you to change your preferred watch face, add or remove widgets from the main menu you see on your display, and adjust the timeout and gesture settings. You can select up to 10 activities to display on your device. If you know there are ones you won't use, swap them out for different options in the app.

When you want to make adjustments to your daily step goal or weekly intensity minutes, these are all performed in the app. You can also decide whether you want the Pulse Ox feature enabled during sleep, which tracks your blood oxygen levels throughout the night.

Garmin Vivomove Sport: What you won't like

Garmin Vivomove Sport Hero

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

If you've been spoiled by colorful AMOLED displays and side buttons galore with your past smartwatches, the Garmin Vivomove Sport may take some getting used to. For starters, it's not a bright and beautiful display like you may have experienced with other wearables.

The monochrome OLED only exists on the bottom half of the display, so space is limited. You'll be doing a lot of swiping to the left or right. You also won't have any side buttons to help with navigation, so the small touchscreen is your only hope. While receiving smartphone notifications is convenient, it takes quite a bit of swiping to read most things across the display.

The main issue with the display is the lack of brightness and low resolution.

However, the main issue with the display is the lack of brightness and low resolution, which is specifically problematic during outdoor workouts. If most of your activities will take place in the gym, this may not be an issue for you.

When dealing with direct sunlight (and even some indirect sunlight), it's challenging to see the touchscreen to start a workout or glance down and look at your stats. I often found myself ducking into shady spots to try and see my progress during training.

Many smartwatch users are used to having at least a few extra perks. Aside from smartphone notifications and music controls, there's not much to look forward to in the extras department. There's no music storage on the watch, and it doesn't have NFC payments. These aren't exactly standard features on hybrid smartwatches, so it's not a huge surprise.

Garmin Vivomove Sport: Competition

Fossil Hybrid HR

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Garmin isn't the only brand that delivers a wide range of hybrid smartwatch options. Fossil is another major player in this arena. However, I have yet to see a Fossil hybrid smartwatch that comes close to the Garmin Vivomove Sport.

The Fossil Hybrid HR and Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR are worthy contenders, but only if you want to save a few bucks or if you're looking for a very particular design. These watches also utilize the E-Ink display, which is underwhelming at best. However, if you're seeking extended battery life, you might be willing to settle for fewer features and a lackluster display.

In terms of pricing, Garmin's own Venu Sq and Garmin Lily are similarly priced options worth considering. The Venu Sq will give you a full-color LCD and a squarish design rather than a circular one. You also get onboard GPS and NFC payments. If you desire, you can upgrade to the Venu Sq Music to indulge in onboard music storage.

If you're firmly focused on a hybrid, there are more premium models available in Garmin's lineup. The Vivomove Style comes to mind, which is more expensive for a few reasons. The hidden display uses an AMOLED panel with higher resolution, so you get some color rather than a monochrome setup. It also uses both the top and bottom of the display, so you're not limited to just the bottom portion. You get a sturdier aluminum 42mm case, different strap options, and NFC payments for Garmin Pay. If these bonus perks are worthwhile, you might be willing to pay more for the Garmin Vivomove Style.

Garmin Vivomove Sport: Should you buy it?

Garmin Vivomove Sport notification

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

You should buy this if ...

  • You're looking for an affordable watch with basic health/activity tracking.
  • You don't want or need a full AMOLED touchscreen or side buttons.
  • You're seeking a stylish but subtle design that doesn't scream "smartwatch."

You shouldn't buy this if ...

  • You're looking for a premium smartwatch with tons of features.
  • You need an advanced fitness smartwatch with built-in GPS.
  • You're not a fan of the traditional analog watch aesthetic.

Some people have a very clear idea of what they want from their wearable. Others are still figuring it all out. If you're the latter, you might stumble across the Garmin Vivomove Sport and be pleasantly surprised. It might look like a traditional watch on the surface, but there's more to it than that. It comes with heart-rate monitoring, activity tracking, blood oxygen monitoring, Body Battery, stress tracking, and more.

Those who know exactly what they want from a smartwatch may not be impressed by the Garmin Vivomove Sport. Not everyone is fond of the traditional analog look, so that's something to consider. Additionally, there's no onboard GPS or advanced tracking features like you'd typically find on Garmin's running watches. You won't have any extra perks such as NFC payments or onboard music storage, either. However, if you're content with basic tracking and features, this hybrid smartwatch won't let you down.

4 out of 5

The most important thing to understand about the Garmin Vivomove Sport is that it's not your average hybrid smartwatch. It's a step above other options on the market without being a full-fledged smartwatch. It allows users to enjoy the best of both worlds by combining the perfect amount of style and functionality.

As long as you're not expecting premium features associated with high-end watches, you won't be disappointed. You'll have a robust activity/health tracking seat that covers most of the key metrics users want. You won't get any extra perks, but that might not bother you too much for the low price tag. Garmin has managed to take a wearable that seems pretty basic on the surface and load it up with some of the best tracking features possible.

Garmin Vivomove Sport Ivory

Garmin Vivomove Sport

Bottom line: The Garmin Vivomove Sport has great potential. If you don't need premium features or advanced tracking, you'll be pleased with this unique wearable. As far as activity/health tracking, you'll have all the essentials. Remember that the touchscreen only exists on the bottom half of the display, so that navigation can be tricky. The faint OLED panel is hard to read in direct sunlight, too. If these drawbacks don't bother you, the hybrid life might be for you.